#2059| Full Circle

My girlfriend: do you feel like years of blogging has prepared you for this
Me: one hundred percent absolutely yes

I’m now a columnist for NY-based socially distanced publication, No Contact Magazine. New CNF piece every Monday Eastern Standard Time – it’s been really fun for me to have a space to explore a variety of forms and techniques, especially in a space separate from my regular writing (fiction, long-form). The first piece was structured as a bingo card, and the second was in second-person, which is a criminally underutilized form. Though I must say that I did read an excellent second-person piece recently, the 2008 Natalie Diaz short story, How To Love a Woman With No Legs, in Volume 38 of The Iowa Review, which left me gasping for breath.

Read Curbside: Between Two States.
Read Curbside: Limited Permissions.
Read the far superior Natalie Diaz’s How To Love a Woman With No Legs.


#2054| That was unexpected.

I went outdoors properly for the first time in months. People keep asking if the cabin fever has gotten to me, but the truth is, I’m one of those people who sits exactly on the center of the introvert/extrovert scale – I’m extremely social, but also extremely solitary. Going into lockdown wasn’t hard for me because of the lack of social interaction, it was hard because of the cold-hearted crushing of my new york hopes and dreams, thanks corona.


I honestly didn’t expect to ever be back on a set again, especially since I moved away and the media’s memory is decidedly goldfish-like (unless you make a public mistake, in which case, you will nEVER LIVE IT DOWN) but I was invited to appear in a Hada Labo skincare ad! I walked into the studio and announced ‘hi everyone i havent had a proper conversation in months so i might have forgotten how to be a normal person’. Thankfully it went over fine.

That was all good. The thing that was unexpected was my body’s completely melodramatic reaction to the sun. I suppose sitting near a window occasionally does not count as sun exposure, because after a brief, uncovered stroll to buy a coffee, I felt all the energy slide out of me, and melt into the pavement. The same when I went to do my hair, the day before the shoot. The word is sapped. Sapped! I went home and was knocked out cold.

When I woke up again it was basically nine pm. I was so shocked. My entire day evaporated, just like that. Worse: I sat down to start work, and started yawning. Nonstop. It seems the sun has destroyed me. I shouldn’t be shocked, given my long standing antagonistic history with the sun (see: heat rash, also, living on the equator). But I am.

Random segue to say that I have two reviews out for the Columbia Journal and that I dyed my hair ash purple and blue.

Actually come to think of it a lot has happened these few days. And yet, things stay the same, more or less.


Review: Real Life” – Columbia Journal (Non Fiction, Online, 2020)

Review: Little Eyes” – Columbia Journal (Non Fiction, Online, 2020)

& said blue/ purple hair.

Y’all, I can’t stop yawning. And neat closures are the domain of the clear-headed. Goodnight.


#2053 | Watercolor girls

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Once upon a time we went painting in the botanical gardens and @martinhong.mov watercolored a very flattering and totally inaccurate portrait of me which has been stuck to my dresser ever since. Today I have a piece out in @nocontactmag about the ways art suffers from unconditional love, which is totally not a passive aggressive statement on our friendship tehe love u boo x ⠀ ⠀ This issue of No Contact begins with a brilliant editor’s letter about the state of America right now, accompanied by a comprehensive list of resources where you can support the Black Lives Matter cause through donations, petitions, and time, as well as a list of linked Black-owned restaurants you can order from if you’re NYC based. Please start with the editor’s letter before the rest of the issue, and thank you for reading x⠀ ⠀ All digital illustrations in the magazine by the wonderful @hi_fidelliot ✨🌱

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I was invited to write a piece for No Contact Magazine, and I did, to which my girlfriend said: I can’t believe you wrote about deviantartists and one of my boyfriends said: the sad thing is nobody takes watercolorists seriously, like compared to oil painters and such and I said: I cant believe no one got the joke that when you use too much watercolor the paper tears and the artist is perpetually crying and my other girlfriend said: but jem your jokes are not funny.

Tough crowd.

Anyway, I do have a favorite watercolorist, thank you for asking. His name is Marcos Beccari and Shane who is far more cultured than I am introduced his work to me.

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Segunda-feira, #aquarela #watercolor.

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I personally have no artistic talent, information I feel compelled to lay on the table, because someone read Watercolor Girls and reached out to ask if i were depressed, at which point I had to explain the difference between fiction and non-fiction.

Read Watercolor Girls here.


#2051 | dirty

A few things:

1. Corona has messed with my hair real bad, not even going to pretend this is a look anymore so much as it is a sign of the times.

2. All i wear now are various sets of pajamas – I now have a rotating wardrobe of fancy pajamas, chill pajamas, and i’ve-given-up pajamas. This old star wars t shirt and pj shorts are basically part of the last category.

3. the other day, as i was working in the living room, my dad looked at me and asked why i type like im fighting enemies off in some video game. so i guess i know now why my back hurts all the time. it’s because my posture sucks and i left the orthopedic love of my life in new york.

4. i was sick all weekend – not pandemic sick, just stress sick i think – and so hibernated nonstop, essentially, and just emerged from the haze of slumber to the very happy news that i’ve been awarded the Felipe P. De Alba Fellowship at Columbia University, which is the first time i have been a fellow of anything, except for maybe when i was 10 and sorted into Yellow house in primary school, and all my friends in the Green house laughed at me for being a yellow yellow dirty fellow. Well, now i am the dirtiest fellow of all, so jokes on them.


#2050 | Athena: A whole mood

2020-05-08 01.39.07 1

My cat is doing a very good job of channeling the grouch in all of us right now. I suppose one can get accustomed to anything: frustration, exhaustion, misery, claustrophobia, the like. For example: when I got back from New York over a month ago, I was at Peak Depression, a total nightmare to be around, not that anyone was, you know, around, since we were all on lockdown and I was quarantined, squirreled away in solitary confinement for two weeks. But my friends showed up magnificently, like Harry Potter’s friends who sent him cake and letters when the Dursleys locked him in without food, and to be honest, the misery was quite cushioned with love, at least for me. Slowly I have graduated from plain and perpetual wretchedness to my current state of fluctuation – ping-ponging between optimism and total incapacitation. Is it like this for everyone? I imagine it is, worse, better, who knows. The problem with despair is that it is myopic. The problem with me is I find this unacceptable. I cannot fathom a situation I cannot muscle my way out of with sheer pigheadedness, though of course when you come up against an invisible enemy there’s not much you can do. Instead I have thrown myself into pantomimes of productivity, doing exactly three sit ups then curling into a ball, reading voraciously to make up for my inability to write, cursing people who are quite happily writing and posting about it, cursing myself because I am not. Everything is so slow. My brain, my body, the world. Except for time, which goes, without regard for its occupants, spending months of our year frivolously. And my cat, for whom at least the world has caught up to speed, finally meeting her on her wavelength of irascibility.